Vijay Sethupathi and Archana. Image Credit: Supplied

What is it that still drives stage actors to pursue their passion despite cinema looming large over them?

Tamil director Balaji Tharaneetharan couldn’t help wondering about this while watching a Tamil play five years ago.

“The artists performed with basic equipment and made little revenue,” remembered Tharaneetharan. “Yet their passion for the stage was unbeatable and that brought them together to stage plays regularly.”

From these thoughts he developed the story of ‘Seethakaathi’, his upcoming film.

Tharaneetharan won hearts with his debut, an original story ‘Naduvala Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom’ taken to great heights by its lead actor Vijay Sethupathi.

Sethupathi plays the lead again in ‘Seethakaathi’ as Ayya Aadhimoolam, a septuagenarian stage actor who loves his work. Veteran star and Indian National Award winner Archana plays Ayya’s wife.

Initially, Tharaneetharan did not have Sethupathi in mind for the role.

“When I approached him later, I was apprehensive about him taking it up but Vijay agreed. It wasn’t just about acting, Vijay gave inputs for the film and that worked out good results,” Tharaneetharan said.

The supporting cast includes Mouli, Bagavathi Perumal and Remya Nambeesan. Actor Vaibhav’s brother Sunil marks his debut as the antagonist. His role comes with humorous shades though, added Tharaneetharan. Seventeen stage artists are also part of the cast.

Sethupathi’s unrecognisable look in the trailer was done by Hollywood’s Kevin Haney and Alex Noble.

‘Seethakaathi’ releases in UAE on December 20.